New Efforts Could Save Property Owners Hundreds of Dollars Annually
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined Councilman Michael Kearns, and West Seneca Supervisor Paul Clark to announce federal action which will seek to remove the City of Buffalo from mandatory involvement in the National Flood Insurance Program.
“For too long, the requirement to carry flood insurance within this effected area has placed a heavy financial burden on local homeowners and stunted the potential for significant economic development,” said Congressman Higgins. “We will demonstrate to the federal government that the flood zone designation in this area is unwarranted and demand this classification be removed.”
Currently approximately 2,700 properties in the City of Buffalo are classified as falling within a flood zone. Under federal law, owners of these properties must purchase flood insurance if they have a mortgage or other bank financing secured by these properties. This mandatory insurance costs home and business owners hundreds of dollars annually.
"The risk of flooding in this area is vastly overstated, especially in light of recent improvements up-stream in the town of West Seneca and the City’s work here in South Buffalo on the slope wall” said Councilman Kearns who has been conducting a survey of residents and businesses in the Flood Plain with the help of Lovejoy Councilman Richard Fontana since late April. “We’ve completed 700 surveys so far and found the premiums people are being forced to pay, many of them on fixed incomes, to be down right oppressive. Let’s call mandatory flood insurance what it is, a flood tax.”
Extensive research by Congressman Higgins’ office found that improvements made in the Buffalo River and Cazenovia Creek area should qualify under federal regulations as measures sufficient to protect local residents from flood risk warranting the need for flood insurance. Given this finding, Congressman Higgins is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to amend the map which currently qualifies the effected area in Buffalo as a flood zone.
"I applaud Congressman Higgins for spearheading this effort to exempt the City of Buffalo from the requirements of the National Flood Insurance program," said Mayor Byron Brown. "With the efforts that have taken place to protect the affected residential areas in South Buffalo, the likelihood of annual flooding has been mitigated and this exemption will save local homeowners money that they would otherwise have to spend on flood insurance. I support Congressman Higgins in his request that FEMA amend the floodplain map for this section of Buffalo."
Alterations made to Cazenovia Park in the 1960’s and the recently completed West Seneca Ice Retention Structure project conducted under the leadership of West Seneca Town Supervisor Paul Clark virtually drastically reduce the likelihood of any substantial ice-jam and free-flow riverine flooding.
"The Cazenovia Creek pier structures, built by the Army Corps of Engineers, have given West Seneca residents and business owners new protection from damages due to flood during the spring thaw and it is great to know that with the help of Congressman Higgins this same project will also contribute to bringing real financial relief to businesses and residents in South Buffalo,” said Supervisor Paul Clark.